Sister Calling My Name

By Buzz McLaughlinSister Callin My Name

Directed by Robert Arbaugh

Produced by Uncovered Theatre Company

At Trap Door Theatre, Chicago

McLaughlin’s semi-passion play is too faith based to be relevant

With all the praying, I thought I was at a Catholic retreat being held at Trap Door Theatre with Sister Calling My Name.  This is a memory play that finds Michael (Luke Daigle) telling his memories of his reconciliation with his mentally retarded/schizophrenic younger sister. We meet Lindesy (excellent work by Katie Cheely) Michael’s mentally challenged sister. We see that she is incapable of rational thought and she seems to be highly influenced by who ever is her guardian.

Sister Callin My Name by Buzz McLaughlin

Michael suffered much trying to grow up amongst Lindsey’s behavior and his parents incapability of handling two children. His deep seated traumatic bringing up led to his rejecting religion and God.  Yet when an old teen girlfriend, Sister Anne (Kelly Helgeson), now a nun, keeps calling him to get him to visit a home for the mentally ill that now is home to Lindsey, Michael at first dismisses the calls and letters.

But the constant nagging and some deceit by Sister Anne finally get Michael to travel to upstate Minnesota. Let me state that I never bought into Michael ever traveling to see Lindsey with whom he blames for his troubled childhood. But, then there would be no story so, of course, Michael gets into a passive-aggressive tangle with his old flame Sister Anne. It seems that recently Lindsey started creating fabulous water color paintings worthy of a major art exhibit and yielding several thousands of dollars each.  Anne believes that Lindsey is God-inspired to paint and she wants Michael to help ‘manage’ her trust fund. Really?

Sister Callin My Name by Buzz McLaughlin

Most of this play is a debate over prayer, faith and reconciliation. It plays as a religious contrivance that only the most devout could relate to. Luke Daigle never convinced me for a second that Michael would stay once he realized that Anne duped him into visiting the home. All the praying and the epiphany from Michael played out hollow. Daigle never exuded believability necessary for me. His character played as a playwright connivance.   This play would have us believe that God works through mentally challenged folks and that a ‘strange force’ compels Michael to reconcile with Lindsey. It just requires more faith than I can muster. I didn’t buy it for a moment. I felt that the play was a religious fable that belongs in church. I did admire Katie Cheely’s wonderful work depicting a mentally challenged person. If you are a Catholic, you may be moved by this work.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

For more info checkout the Sister Calling My Name page on www.theatreinchicago.com

At Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland St., Chicago, IL,  tickets $15, www.uncoveredtheatre.com, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is1 hour, 50 minutes with intermission, through June 12, 2011